Golden-brown pastry, bubbling cheddar cheese and soft, slowly roasted cauliflower – this Ottolenghi creation is a perfect weekend project for autumn.
It’s one he and Bahraini-born chef Noor Murad, who joined the Ottolenghi team in 2016 and co-wrote the cookbook Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love, call “the ultimate comfort of comfort foods” in the recipe’s intro.
It’s essentially a rich, flavourful cauliflower cheese made into a pie – and the best part is you don’t need to worry about making it look good. Having a messy “scrunched-up” border around the edges is what this dish is all about. The chefs say their pie was once described as “molten-hot-cheese-lava” and they say that’s a pretty fitting description.
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It’s one of many veggie-forward recipes in Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love, which is a collection of relaxed, humble home cooking recipes based on the ones Ottolenghi thinks up for his column for the Guardian.
The Ottolenghi twist to this delicious cheesy hot mess is the mild heat from the curry powder and English mustard. And, of course, the serving suggestion of citrus to give it a fresh kick.
Curried cauliflower cheese filo pie
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 tsp mild curry powder
3 tbsp olive oil
100g unsalted butter, 50g cut into cubes and 50g melted
75g plain flour
675ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tbsp English mustard
150g mature cheddar, roughly grated
6 sheets of filo pastry (for example feuilles de filo)
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
1½ tsp lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the bottom and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.
Put the cauliflower on a large, parchment-lined baking tray and toss with the curry powder, half the oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly coloured.
Set aside, and turn the oven temperature down to 170°C.
To make the bechamel, put the cubed butter into a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat and, once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes. It should start to smell nutty (like popcorn).
Turn the heat down to medium and slowly add the milk a little at a time, whisking continuously to prevent any lumps, until incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Cook, whisking often, for about 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Off the heat, stir in the garlic, mustard, cheese and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt until the cheese has melted.
Keep your filo sheets under a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out. In a bowl, combine the melted butter and the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of oil and keep to one side.
Working with one sheet at a time, brush the exposed side of the filo with the butter mixture and drape it into your prepared tin (buttered side up), pushing it down gently to fit. Continue in this way with the next filo sheet, brushing it with butter and then laying it over the bottom sheet, rotating it slightly so the overhang drapes over the sides at a different angle. Do this with all six sheets.
Spoon half the bechamel into the base and top with the roasted cauliflower florets. Spoon over the remaining white sauce, then crimp up the overhang so that it creates a messy “scrunched-up” border around the edges, leaving the centre of the pie exposed.
Brush the top of the filo border with the remaining butter mixture, then transfer the tin to a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
Using a tea towel, carefully release the outer circle of the springform tin and return the pie to the oven for another 25 minutes, or until the sides are nicely coloured and it’s golden and bubbling.
Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Top the pie with parsley and lemon zest and serve warm.
This is an extract from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, $49.99.
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